Muni network ownership and the Fourth

Owen DeLong owen at
Tue Jan 29 22:14:46 UTC 2013

On Jan 29, 2013, at 09:05 , Leo Bicknell <bicknell at> wrote:

> In a message written on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 10:59:31AM -0500, Jay Ashworth wrote:
>> Regular readers know that I'm really big on municipally owned fiber networks
>> (at layer 1 or 2)... but I'm also a big constitutionalist (on the first, 
>> second, fourth, and fifth, particularly), and this is the first really good
>> counter-argument I've seen, and it honestly hadn't occurred to me.
>> Rob, anyone, does anyone know if any 4th amendment case law exists on muni-
>> owned networks?
> I don't, but I'd like to point out here that I've long believed
> both sides of the muni-network argument are right, and that we the
> people are losing the baby with the bath water.
> I am a big proponent of muni-owned dark fiber networks.  I want to
> be 100% clear about what I advocate here:
>  - Muni-owned MMR space, fiber only, no active equipment allowed.  A
>    big cross connect room, where the muni-fiber ends and providers are
>    all allowed to colocate their fiber term on non-discriminatory terms.
>    Large munis will need more than one, no run from a particular MMR
>    to a home should exceed 9km, allowing the providers to be within
>    1km of the MMR and still use 10km optics.
>  - 4-6 strands per home, home run back to the muni-owned MMR space.
>    No splitters, WDM, etc, home run glass.  Terminating on an optical
>    handoff inside the home.
>  - Fiber leased per month, per pair, on a cost recovery basis (to
>    include an estimate of O&M over time), same price to all players.

This is exactly what I have been advocating for years and is similar to
what is already available in Sweden and is being implemented in Australia.
(Or at least the intent of what is supposed to be in process there).

> I do NOT advocate that munis ever run anything on top of the fiber.
> No IP, no TV, no telephone, not even teleporters in the future.
> Service Providers of all types can drop a large count fiber from
> their POP to the muni-owned MMR, request individual customers be
> connected, and then provide them with any sort of service they like
> over that fiber pair, single play, double play, triple play, whatever.

IMHO, this is horribly more expensive and inefficient than it should be.

The MMR should, IMHO be a colo facility where service providers can
lease racks if they choose. The colo should also be operated on a cost
recovery basis and should only be open to installation of equipment
directly related to providing service to customers reached via the MMR.

> See, the Comcast's and AT&T of the world are right that governments
> shouldn't be ISP's, that should be left to the private sector.  I
> want a choice of ISP's offering different services, not a single
> monopoly.  In this case the technology can provide that, so it
> should be available.


> At the same time, it is very ineffecient to require each provider
> to build to every house.  Not only is it a large capital cost and
> barrier to entry of new players, but no one wants roads and yards
> dug up over and over again.  Reducing down to one player building
> the physical in the ground part saves money and saves disruption.

Amsterdam had an interesting solution to the repeated digging problem.

As I understand it, if you want to trench something in there, you are
required to provide notice and anyone else that wants to put something
in the trench can join your build, but all comers share equally in the cost
of digging and repairing.

> Regarding your 4th amendment concerns, almost all the data the
> government wants is with the Service Provider in my model, same as
> today.  They can't find out who you called last week without going
> to the CDR or having a tap on every like 24x7 which is not cost
> effective.  Could a muni still optically tap a fiber in this case
> and suck off all the data?  Sure, and I have no doubt some paranoid
> service provider will offer to encrypt everything at the transport
> level.


> Is it perfect?  No.  However I think if we could adopt this model
> capital costs would come down (munis can finance fiber on low rate, long
> term muni-bonds, unlike corporations, plus they only build one network,
> not N), and competition would come up (small service providers can
> reach customers only by building to the MMR space, not individual homes)
> which would be a huge win win for consumers.

The biggest thing blocking this is the entrenched interests of the current
monopoly providers and their very effective lobbying capabilities, IMHO.

> Maybe that's why the big players want to throw the baby out with the
> bath water. :P



More information about the NANOG mailing list